“It Made the Racing Worse” – Dale Earnhardt Jr Blames the Indy Cars for the Absence of Indianapolis From NASCAR

Published 08/18/2023, 3:15 PM EDT

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The world of NASCAR has seen its fair share of ups and downs, both on the track and behind the scenes. In a recent episode of his podcast, NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt Jr shared his perspective on a significant twist in NASCAR’s journey. According to Earnhardt Jr, the pursuit of success by following IndyCar’s formula might have inadvertently led to the absence of the iconic Indianapolis Oval from the NASCAR calendar.

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And this isn’t the first time Dale Earnhardt Jr has spoken about this either. Back in 2015, when he was still racing in the NASCAR Cup Series. Earnhardt Jr had pointed out the problem that not only made him concerned from a safety standpoint, but also emphasized the reduced quality of racing in those days.

Dale Earnhardt Jr explains that trying to follow in IndyCar’s footsteps made the racing worse in NASCAR

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In his characteristically candid style, Dale Jr recounted the decision that had a substantial impact on NASCAR’s racing dynamics. He highlighted how NASCAR took cues from IndyCar, aiming to emulate the draft-overtaking on the straights as seen in IndyCar. By altering the horsepower of Cup Series cars and introducing larger spoilers, NASCAR aimed to replicate the strategy. However, in Dale Jr’s eyes, this move led to what he described as “worse” racing, ultimately contributing to the removal of the Indianapolis Oval Brickyard 400 from the roster.

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“We went to that really low horsepower thing and put them really big spoilers on the back,” Dale Jr explained to his co-host Mike Davis. “We got way off pace. What they were doing is trying to make the cars basically just draft past each other on every straightaway. They were trying to recreate what you can basically do in an Indy Car. Where if you’re close enough, you’re gonna be able to pass the guy down the straightaway. If you come off the corner in a reasonable distance, you were gonna go by.”

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“They wanted to try and replicate that and it made the racing worse. And then we just bailed on the track [Indy Oval] altogether. A track like we were so lucky to get to so blessed to be able to have that on the schedule,” he added.

Dale Earnhardt Jr’s insights into NASCAR’s racing challenges aren’t a recent development. Back in 2015, during his active racing days, Earnhardt Jr raised a similar concern regarding the racing dynamics.

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A glimpse into 2015 reveals Junior’s discerning eye on corner speeds and their repercussions. His point of contention revolved around the corner speeds that became alarmingly higher despite a horsepower reduction. As he explained, the reduced horsepower led to drivers being on the gas more, leaving fewer opportunities for off-throttle moments in the corners. This, in turn, hindered passing and dynamic racing on the track.

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With his ever-analytical approach, Dale Jr. drew attention to the importance of strategic throttle management. He noted that if both racers were wide open on the gas, overtaking became an uphill battle. He pointed out the need for a balance between speed and skill, where lifting off the gas and skillful cornering could create more thrilling opportunities for overtaking and captivating races.

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“The corner speeds are going to be higher everywhere,” Earnhardt Jr said according to NBC Sports. “We were 18 mph faster in the middle of the corner at (Las) Vegas. I imagine we’re 10-12 mph faster through the corner here (at Kentucky). The corner speeds are way too high, in my opinion. We need to do everything we can to create off-throttle. We’re on the gas a lot more this year due to the less horsepower.”

“If I’m racing you and we’re both in the gas wide open, I’m not going to catch you,” Junior explained why the racing had degraded. “I need you to lift, or one of us needs to have a little problem to be able to catch the other. If we’re all in the gas, it’s hard to do that.”

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Watch This Story | Dale Earnhardt Jr Recounts the Expense of Greatness

With Dale Earnhardt Jr’s insight. NASCAR’s pursuit of dynamic racing and competition takes on a new dimension. Reminding fans that strategic thinking and nuanced dynamics remain at the heart of the sport’s pulse.

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Written by:

Veerendra Vikram Singh

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Veerendra Vikram Singh is a NASCAR Writer at EssentiallySports. With a natural affinity for motorsports, he brings a unique perspective to his coverage of everything NASCAR. His love for sports extends way beyond NASCAR, encompassing Formula 1 and MotoGP and a few other motorsports as well.
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Edited by:

Debmallya Chakraborty

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